Past and Present Meet in the Meqnes Weekender Bag : A Brief History of Leather

There are many things I love about the Meqnes weekender.

It’s a high-quality, durable bag that’s also gorgeous and eye-catching. It can be personalized, and it can fit just what you need inside it to have an unforgettable weekend.

Another thing I love about the Meqnes weekender? When you’re holding it, you’re holding history.

history of leather

(RELATED: Vegetable-tanned leather bags: Why we do it

An ancient material

First, there’s the history of the leather itself. Believe it or not, leather is one of the oldest materials known to man. Figuring out things like curing and tanning it must have been a lot of messy trial and error. But the results were worth it.

Some of the oldest leather still surviving today is a shoe from 3500 BCE. It’s survived the millennia amazingly well – and that’s a big part of leather’s appeal: It’s beautiful AND resistant.

Leather tanning – conditioning leather to last – was originally done using tannins, organic vegetable fibers, in a process that took up to two months. Our ancestors had leather -making and -working on lock. They even dyed leather different colors, from an early date.

Morocco leather became one of the most prized kinds of leather. It’s firmer than many other varieties, and was considered the best for using gliding on. If you come across old leather-bound books, they’re probably bound in Moroccan leather.

In 1858, scientists Friedrich Knapp, Hylten Cavalin, and Augustus Schultz found a way to speed things up – and allow for more color options – with the chrome tanning method.

This took about two days and resulted in a softer hide that could be just about any shade you could think of. Chrome dying is still used today for a vast majority of leather goods. But unfortunately, the chemical byproducts aren’t great for the environment.

A travel tradition

Leather isn’t the Meqnes bag’s only tie to history.

Luggage itself actually evolved much later than you’d expect. In the past, sacks and satchels were used, as well as heavy trunks. It wasn’t until transportation became more modern that we started to see standard, often stylish, baggage options.

It all started with Louis Vuitton, who caused a luggage revolution simply by making the top part of his travel trunks flat. This helped make them easy to store and stack in the holds of steamships (the way people got across the oceans at the time). Soon, the steamer trunk (often covered in durable leather) was a standard.

But what if you wanted or needed to pack light? The suitcase and other, smaller bags, came into their own in the 20th century, as automobiles, buses, and, later on, airplanes, became major ways to travel. People had to do pack differently, since they weren’t traveling in a massive ship with a huge cargo hold. Suitcases and other types of handheld bags became popular.

By the 1920’s a soft, handled bag, usually made of fine, sturdy leather emerged. This bag had – and has – many names but we prefer to call it a “weekender”, since it’s got the perfect amount of space to store what you need for a weekend-long adventure.

When you look at images of those older bags, you see their leather has different shades. This is known as a patina — the reaction of the leather and its dyes to things like sunlight and the oil from its user’s hands. Patinas are like fingerprints; no two are exactly alike. Unlike fingerprints, they add instant charm to a bag.

History meets modern times in the Meqnes weekender

leather history

I travel a lot, and I like to look good doing it.

Most modern men’s bags are either practical and not particularly aesthetically pleasing, or nice-looking but flawed in some practical way. Maybe they don’t distribute weight well. Maybe they aren’t made from the highest-quality materials.

I wanted to change this, and as I often do, I took inspiration from a bygone era, when style and functionality were firmly linked, whether in a handsome steamer trunk or a sturdy but eye-catching piece of hand luggage.

I thought about materials. Growing up in Morocco means I grew up knowing leather. Every market was full of leather goods, and it wasn’t hard to see which were the finer quality.

Morocco’s best leather artisans still practice vegetable tanning. I’ve always loved the effect this has on leather, and the fact that it’s better for the environment than chrome tanning is a pretty great bonus.

I knew the perfect bag would have to be made of vegetable-tanned Morocco leather.

I thought about craftsmanship. Living in Poland, I’ve met a number of garment and leatherworkers who are masters at their craft.

I showed them my prototypes of the bag I wanted to create, and they were able to bring it to life, using the Morocco leather I’d sourced.

The Meqnes weekender is the result.

It combines vintage charm with modern features like a sleek look and color choices. It preserves the traditions of artisanal leatherwork and vegetable tanning, resulting in a timeless style.

The Meqnes weekender’s full grain, weatherproofed, vegetable-tanned leather is the best quality out there, more water-resistant than other types, and sturdy enough to withstand rough and tumble transportation and other assorted mishaps, while retaining its sophisticated shape.

The zippers and other fixtures have a lifetime guarantee; they’re so sturdy that any workmanship-related issue will be corrected immediately, for free. The handles and detachable shoulder strap are strong, but easy on your body.

If you’re going to travel, why not bring a reliable and eye-catching bag along for the adventure?

Carry a Meqnes bag and you carry history – and with such a unique, stylish accessory, you’ll probably make some history of your own.